Unlike most fall previews, The Popcorn Trick is going to take you night by night, and try to analyze what will succeed, what will fail, and what will annoy.
This analysis is obviously the work of some pretty serious insiders in the business, so they know what they're talking about. Feel free to pick their brains in the comment section...
The network of acronyms and racist sitcoms, CBS is not looking to change their formula anytime soon. Returning How I Met Your Mother and 2 Broke Girls, they have a strong foundation they can fill the edges around. How I Met Your Mother especially has some new buzz, now that we know the mother has been introduced in this last season. Early on that alone will get a big audience; whether it can hold it as the season goes time will tell.
I have high hopes for Mom, simply because I enjoy the works of both Anna Farris and Allison Janney. Unfortunately, with CBS and sitcoms, the writing stays broad and if the stars don't resonate, the show won't. But it's got a nice time slot, following 2 Broke Girls, so I'm predicting a moderate success.
The same can't be said for Hostages. In the 10:00 hour, already up against a show (The Blacklist) that is most likely similar in tone, it's starting as the underdog. While DVR can help shows up against other popular ones, Hostages isn't exactly getting great buzz. I've enjoyed Dylan McDermott ever since In the Line of Fire, and the rest of the cast has some heavy hitters, but I don't see Hostages sticking it out here. Expect a news show to fill in the 10:00 hour on CBS by November.
Why fool with success? Dancing with the Stars is a juggernaut on Monday nights. So we're back to sashaying around and driving up Facebook posts from housewives demanding their followers vote for their favorite soap star. And Castle, a show that I'm surprised is on every time I see that it is on, follows, garnering a nice lead in and I assume a great chemistry from its leads. By now, it has developed its characters and themes enough to call it a detective soap opera, and has a strong fan base. Good for Castle!
The Voice is back, in case you didn't know, with Aguilera and Cee-Lo returning to their chairs. Not sure if that will give a boost to the show or not - Shakira and Usher seemed to do a competent job and no one missed a beat. But whatever, while the show's gimmick is getting a bit tired, this will still draw its fans and do well, but NBC has to be biting its nails wondering what else they can scratch up to retain it's audience. Revolution was completely uneven, so now they've turned their attention to...
...or more specifically, James Spader. Obviously, it's a Silence of the Lambs ripoff, with Spader playing a international criminal mastermind who suddenly turns himself into the FBI but will only speak with some rookie, female agent (who is his daughter, right? I mean, it's not like we're watching Rubicon here) and help her track down other international criminal masterminds.
Apparently Spader does his Spaderist in this one and chews scenery with aplomb. And because that's not entirely a terrible thing to watch, The Blacklist has a shot to become something here. God knows NBC is banking on it, pushing a lot of money to promote this thing. It's set up to do well and doesn't look like it has too much competition around it (see the aforementioned Hostages - or don't), so we'll see how long the gimmick of Mastermind and rookie relationship can go.
We've got Bones, and then the completely crazy Sleepy Hollow this year. Bones will do Bones things and keep its audience, and I'm not sure what to make of Sleepy Hollow. It's completely insane, and kills Clancy Brown off way too early, destroying a chance to enjoy his talents for a longer run. Also, it's got a lot of things wrapped in its premise, which I think is going to hurt the minds of viewers. Fantasy is tricky. It works when you go all in, like Game of Thrones; when you dabble and try to mix other genres in, it starts getting a little too loopy. Sleepy Hollow doesn't seem serious enough for geeks, but too serious for the casual viewer to keep coming back to it. I don't see it surviving unless it's got fans a the network (and I really doubt that).
Tomorrow...we take a look at FOX and their sitcom lineup and peripheral superheroes!